Survey of London: Volume 21, the Parish of St Pancras Part 3: Tottenham Court Road and Neighbourhood. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1949.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying and sponsored by English Heritage. All rights reserved.
LXXIV—EUSTON STATION AND RAILWAY WORKS
On 30th September, 1830, the promoters of two independent schemes for constructing a railway from London to Birmingham agreed to combine and on 13th October in the same year, Messrs. Stephenson and Son were proposed as the engineers. The capital was given as £3,000,000 and detailed statements regarding the project were published on 22nd January and 26th December, 1831. Plans had been deposited in Parliament in November, but the Bill was thrown out by the Lords on 10th July, 1832. (fn. 97) A fresh application to Parliament was made and an Act (fn. 98) for making a Railway from London to Birmingham became law on 6th May, 1833. Under this Act, the Proprietors were empowered to raise £2,500,000 in £100 shares, to borrow up to a further limit, and to acquire property on the line which the railway was to take. A schedule of properties so affected is appended to the Act. It was proposed that the railway should start "on the West side of the High Road leading from London to Hampstead, at or near to the first bridge Westward of the Lock on the Regent's Canal at Camden Town."
The Company authorized the construction of the first terminus, at Chalk Farm, near the site of the present roundhouse (see p. 110) in 1833 and a siding there is still called "the Terminus siding." (fn. 99) Then, in August, 1834, Robert Stephenson suggested the extension to Euston. This had been contemplated in the first instance, but eliminated from the Bill in its second presentation. However, the extension was authorized by an Act (fn. 100) obtained on 3rd July, 1835, under which property was acquired as far as Euston Grove. Sufficient land was taken for four lines of railway because of tentative discussions with the Great Western Railway concerning a junction at Willesden and a joint terminus at Euston. But the discussions failed.
The contract for the extension from Chalk Farm to Euston was let to Messrs. W. & L. Cubitt on 9th December, 1835, Stephenson's plans for the station having been approved in the previous month. The extension line was worked by a fixed engine at the Camden Town Station because of the steep gradient from that point to Euston and the inconvenience of manoeuvring locomotives in the confined space of the passenger depdt. A tender for a pair of condensing engines was accepted in July, 1836; these worked an endless cable which drew the trains up from Euston at 20 m.p.h. The basement of one of the winding-engine houses still exists and is used as a drainage sump. (fn. 101) The cable was used for about eight years, its use being discontinued, in favour of locomotives, in July, 1844.
Euston Station was planned by Robert Stephenson, but the platform sheds were designed by Charles (later Sir Charles) Fox (fn. 102) and the architectural frontispiece, including the so-called "arch," more properly the portico, by Philip Hardwick, (fn. 103) who was commissioned in July, 1836. The original station buildings consisted, apart from the platform coverings and portico, of a narrow two-storey building running north and south adjacent to, and westward of, the departure platform (now Platform 6). This building (fn. n1) had a single-storey Greek Doric colonnade projecting along its western or entrance front. Soon after its erection, a larger building was built to contain booking offices, etc.; this stood farther north (fn. n2) and included an open Greek Doric colonnade of eight bays (still existing) in its east wall. The departure platform thus became known as the "colonnade platform."
In 1838 the Company vacated its offices in Cornhill and moved to Euston, presumably occupying the rooms over the booking office and perhaps some old buildings elsewhere on the site.
The first section of the London and Birmingham line, to Boxmoor, was opened on 20th July, 1837, and the whole line from Euston to Birmingham on 17th September, 1838.
In 1839, sites were acquired from Lord Southampton for two hotels, flanking the approach to the portico. These, erected by a subsidiary company, were known as the "Euston" (east) and "Victoria" (west) Hotels, the latter being appropriated to sleeping accommodation only. The hotels, for which Philip Hardwick was the architect, were opened in September, 1839. The portico was not completed till 1840.
In 1846 the Company amalgamated with the Grand Junction and Manchester and Birmingham Railways, the L. & N.W.R. being thus created. Immediately a large group of new buildings (fn. n3) was proposed, including a great hall, meeting room, board room, general offices and new booking offices. The old booking office block was incorporated in this scheme, becoming one of the two booking offices flanking the new great hall. Hence the survival of the colonnade of c. 1838 on Platform 6.
The architect for the scheme was Philip Hardwick, but the work was done by his son, Philip Charles Hardwick, (fn. 104) who took over his father's practice about that date.
The great hall and other works were designed and built between 1846 and 1849 at a cost of about £150,000 (fn. n4). The great hall itself was first designed on the Roman Bath model with large semicircular windows near the roof and this design (in the Company's possession) was worked out in considerable detail before being superseded. To east and west of the great hall two blocks of identical size were built, containing, on the east, the London and Birmingham booking office (a reconstruction, as explained above, of a previous building) and, on the west, that of the Midland Counties Railway. (fn. n5) To the north of the great hall another block comprised the meeting room, board room, etc. At about the same time, a parcels office was built—a long narrow building running north and south on the west side of the Station Yard. South of this and in the same line, was built the Queen's Apartments, comprising two rooms for the accommodation of royalty and other special passengers. Both these buildings were designed by P. C. Hardwick and were Greek in character (fn. n6). The platform coverings were also extended at this time to shelter new tracks, Fox's roof design being slightly revised. The present Platforms 8 and 9 (on the west side of the great hall) date from this time. Platform 9 was used by the York Mail, Euston being then still the only London terminus from which York could be reached. The platform is still known by Euston employees as "the York." (fn. 105)
The next phase in the building of Euston Station began in 1869, when an Act (fn. 106) was obtained for a variety of purposes including the acquisition from Lord Southampton and others of a strip of ground linking the station with Euston Road. On this, a drive 80 ft. wide was formed, the two lodges at the Euston Road end being completed in 1870, from designs by J. B. Stansby. (fn. n7) At the time of completion one lodge was used for small parcels and inquiries. The bronze statue of Robert Stephenson, by Baron Carlo Marochetti, standing on a base of polished Aberdeen granite, between the lodges, was presented by the Institution of Civil Engineers (Plate 58).
In 1869–70, the station was much enlarged towards the east. Some old property on Seymour (now Eversholt) Street was demolished and new arrival platforms (now Nos. 1, 2 and 3) constructed. The bridge for signal cabins over the north end of these platforms was erected, together with the up-side parcels office and additional accommodation for the railway clearing house. The old carriage-sheds of 1836–37 were demolished. The brick screen wall to Eversholt Street dates from this period. The extreme lowness of the platform coverings with their "squat and shed-like appearance" now compared unfavourably with the lofty terminus buildings at King's Cross and St. Pancras; and in 1870, under the Company's engineer, William Baker, a roof area amounting to 900 ft. by 130 ft. was raised some 6 feet throughout by the introduction of cast-iron pedestals under the existing columns. The work was done by hydraulic power and completed within one week, without interfering with the normal working of the station. (fn. 107) The coverings on Platforms 8 and 9 were not raised.
In 1880–81 the "Euston" and "Victoria" hotels were joined together by a new building, (fn. 108) erected at a cost of about £30,000 from designs provided by Stansby. (fn. n8) From 1881 new offices were erected on the west side of the station yard, with a return block in Drummond Street and further offices to the east of the station yard, jutting into the station and carried on iron columns. The architects of these buildings, which carry on the cornice line of the great hall and are finished in grey cement and stone, were Joseph & Smithem. The offices in Drummond Street were extended westward in 1910–20.
In 1883, Parliamentary powers were obtained in order to purchase part of the burial ground of St. James's, Hampstead Road, to abolish Whittlebury Street and divert Cardington Street to its present site. On the ground thus added to the west of the station important extensions, including Platforms 12–15, were begun in 1887 and opened in 1892. In the previous year the wooden "island" platform (Nos. 4 and 5) was opened for local trains. A new signal box (Euston No. 2) was brought into use in April of the same year, 1891. (fn. 109) At the time, it was the largest of its kind in existence.
The railway works and outlying buildings associated with the station cannot be fully dealt with here, and we shall mention only a few of the principal structures. The works associated with the original station included bridges to carry various existing roadways over the line and to carry the line over the Regent's Canal. Of these bridges, three are illustrated and described by Simms. (fn. 110) They are the Stanhope Place Bridge, the Park Street Bridge, and the bridge over the Regent's Canal. The Stanhope Place Bridge, consisting of two segmental masonry arches, was removed when Stanhope Place was diverted into Mornington Terrace in the 'nineties. The Canal bridge has also been destroyed, but that over Park Street still exists, as does that carrying Granby Terrace. The two-arched Ampthill Square road bridge was taken down in 1898 and replaced by girders. (fn. 111) The bridge over Wriothesley Street, the first to be built, had been demolished as early as about 1846–47, when Wriothesley Street (fn. n9) was closed. The cutting running south for a short way from Park Street and spanned by segmental cast-iron struts, is the original structure of 1836–37.
Simms also described and illustrated the "fixed engine-house" at Chalk Farm, the locomotive engine-house and the (still existing) Primrose Hill Tunnel facade, which, however, is in the old parish of St. John, Hampstead.
In Cardington Street (No. 64) a pair of stone gate-piers survives, leading to a yard where there is a plain two-storey building erected in 1847 as a timber shed. The drawings for this work are signed by P. C. Hardwick.
The round-house (former engine-house) in Chalk Farm Road, now a warehouse of Messrs. W. & A. Gilbey, Ltd., was designed under Robert Stephenson by Robert B. Dockray (fn. n10) and his assistant Mr. Normanville, in 1847. (fn. 112) In 1846–48, the first portion of the long range of buildings in Eversholt Street, comprising the railway clearing house, was erected. This was incorporated, in 1859, in the present block at the south corner of Barnby Street. The range of buildings north of Barnby Street was built at various times from 1874 to 1902.
The Portico and Lodges. As originally erected under Philip Hardwick, this composition consisted of the portico, with two attached lodges on either side, detached lodges beyond, and detached piers beyond these again; the spaces in the arch, the spaces between each pair of lodges and the spaces beyond being provided with gates. The westernmost pier and lodge were demolished when the L. & N.W.R. offices in Drummond Street were built in 1881, etc. Otherwise the building is unaltered except for the lettering incised on the lintel (1870) and the removal of some lion masks from the cornice. The design of the arch was evidently inspired by the restoration of a gateway at Athens given in Stuart & Revett's Antiquities of Athens and called by them the entrance to an agora. (fn. n11) The portico and lodges are built of Bramley Fall stone. The four Greek Doric columns, 44 ft. 2 in. high, are hollow, each course of masonry consisting not, as usual, of a single drum but of four stones. A chamber in the roof is reached by a spiral staircase in one corner of the structure. The roof itself, consisting of stone slabs in imitation of the antique manner, is supported on dwarf brick walls which, in turn, rest at right angles on brick arches spanning the three openings. A separate rooftruss, below the centre arch, carries the weight of the coffered ceiling which appears to be in stucco. (fn. n12) The cast-iron gates, designed by Hardwick, were manufactured by J. J. Bramah. The cost of the whole work was about £35,000 (Plate 59, and gates, Plate 61).
The Station. The earliest parts of the existing station are the roof coverings which sheltered the original tracks of 1836–37. They are now merged with the almost identical coverings erected at various times from 1846 onwards, but can be distinguished on close inspection. The original bays are the third to tenth (inclusive) from the south in the arcade dividing Platform 4 from Platform 5; and the third to the eleventh (inclusive) in the arcade standing between the tracks between Platforms 5 and 6. The columns which, with the arched bressumers above them are of cast iron, support light roof-trusses which are of wrought iron except for the cast gutters. The span of these roofs is 40 ft. (fn. n13) (Plate 60).
On Platform 6, as mentioned above, is a colonnade of Greek Doric columns (cast iron) belonging to a building of c. 1838, later incorporated in the great hall group. Girders were inserted over these columns in 1848 to take the increased weight placed upon them. The two pairs of cast-iron gates on Platform 6, designed by P. Hardwick, date from 1848 but have been moved and re-hung.
The Hotel. The two hotel buildings (fn. n14) of 1839 exist in part as the east and west wings of the present structure. They are simple stucco-covered buildings of four storeys, with broad pilasters, having Greek anta caps between the ground-floor windows, a continuous cast-iron window-guard at first-floor level and a cornice at third-floor level. They are unimportant internally. The dining-room of the former "Euston" hotel had two pairs of Ionic columns in antis, but they were covered up in 1935, when the whole of the public rooms were transformed. The connecting building of 1880–81 is in the "modern French" style of the time, with carving by Mr. Loni and Messrs. Aumonier & Rose. Where the building crosses the approach to the station it is supported on four rows of cast-iron Doric columns.
The Great Hall and Offices. This block of buildings comprises the great hall, with ancillary two-storey buildings on all four sides. The main elements in the original plan were the two booking halls, to east and west of the great hall, and the meeting room on the north, approached by a monumental staircase. A variety of other apartments, including offices, committee rooms, waiting rooms, etc., was also incorporated in the plan, those on the first floor being approached by a balcony running round the hall (see plan, p. 112).
The exterior of the block has a stone-faced elevation to the south (now almost invisible owing to the new booking hall added in 1912) with Italian window-dressings and cornice.
The great hall is divided into a basement storey, a principal storey governed by an Ionic order, and a lofty clerestory with consoles supporting a coffered ceiling, having a span of 61 ft. 3 in. The design of the two upper divisions is evidently inspired by the principal apartment in Peruzzi's Palazzo Massimi at Rome. (fn. n15) The Ionic order is expressed in antis at either end of the hall, while at the principal floor-level a balcony with iron balustrades, in- geniously combined with gas-fittings, runs round all four sides of the hall. This level is approached by a stair projecting into the hall at its north end. The clerestory is richly decorated with carved consoles and eight panels (two at each corner) containing allegorical groups in low relief symbolic of London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Carlisle, Chester, Lancaster and Northampton. Another sculptural group in stone, in high relief, is placed over the Doric portal framing the entrance to the proprietors' meeting room at the north end: this shows Britannia, accompanied by a lion, a ship, the Arts and Sciences and Mercury and is signed John Thomas 1849 in the lower right-hand corner. Thomas (fn. 113) was also responsible for the consoles and relief panels. (fn. c1) The ceiling is formed in plaster and supported by timber roof-trusses reinforced with iron (see Plate 62).
As originally decorated, the walls of the hall were finished in grey Martin's cement painted to imitate granite; the columns were finished as red granite with white marble caps and bases. The area and staircase are of Craigleith stone. The hall was redecorated in 1878 and again about 1916: the present decorations were executed with the advice of Sir Edwin Lutyens.
The former booking halls adjoin the great hall on east and west, but have been completely transformed (1912) to provide dining and refreshment rooms. (fn. n16) Hardwick's glazed and heavily enriched domes which gave indirect light to the old booking halls through a well at first-floor level, are now in- visible except from first-floor level. They are supported on broad elliptical arches springing from consoles decorated with lions' heads.
The proprietors' meeting room, (fn. 114) immediately north of the great hall and on the same axis, consists of a hall, five bays long by three bays wide, divided by detached coupled columns of the Roman Doric order rising from pedestals; the ceiling is coved and pierced by lunettes. At either end of the room are grey marble fire-places surmounted by busts, and there are other busts and portraits.
East of the meeting room is the board room, panelled in stained and polished oak and decorated with Corinthian pilasters and columns in antis, of the same order, at either end. On the south side is a fire-place of purplishgrey veined marble with the L. & N.W.R. monogram in a roundel and surmounted by busts of three engineers associated with the Company: Robert and George Stephenson and Joseph Locke.
South of the board room is the conference room, a small apartment lit by a Venetian window.
Euston Road Lodges. Each lodge is a two-storey building, square on plan (24 ft. internally), faced with Portland stone and with low-pitched leadcovered roof. The exterior walls are panelled and rusticated and the quoin stones bear the names of stations in incised and gilded letters. In the pediment (N. and S.) are groups representing England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales, the work of Joseph Pitts. (fn. n17) The upper floors are reached by iron spiral staircases.
Railway Clearing House, Eversholt Street. Only the block on the south corner of Barnby Street is of any architectural interest. It is a plain threestorey building of stock brick with Portland stone cornice at second-floor level and rusticated arched entrances, also in Portland stone, now painted. The buildings north of Barnby Street have adopted a similar design; the doorway being repeated throughout, but proportions and details are varied.
The Round House, Chalk Farm Road. A circular structure of grey stock brick with heavy buttresses based on the medieval type and roundheaded windows in some bays. It is covered by an iron roof carrying slates, except for a zone, formerly glazed, half-way between eaves and ridge.